Plays Solo Piano
2013 reissue; originally released in 1965. This album, Ran Blake's solo debut, has barely been heard since its appearance in ESP-Disk's first batch of LP releases in 1965. The reissue programs in Europe on ZYX and Calibre did not include it; there was only one very poorly distributed bootleg Italian CD issue in the mid-'90s. Fans and aficionados, including members of the jazz press, have clamored for it to be included in ESP's 50th Anniversary Remaster program, citing its musical and historical importance, so here it is! The slight distortion on a few high notes is a small price to pay to hear this jazz master at the beginning of his illustrious career. Born in 1935, Blake developed a style of jazz playing unlike anyone else's by incorporating classical elements (the impressionists, of course, but Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Messiaen have also been cited), gospel music (which he experienced first-hand in a Pentecostal church while growing up in Connecticut), Thelonious Monk's highly personal style (back when Monk was still considered a good composer but an overly eccentric pianist), and an abiding love of film noir that influenced the mood of his playing as much as his purely musical influences. Recording opportunities were sparse at first; by age 40 he had released only three albums: his 1962 debut with vocalist Jeanne Lee, The Newest Sound Around (RCA), Plays Solo Piano (1965), and another solo album, The Blue Potato and Other Outrages (Milestone, 1969, long out of print). Since then, fortunately, he has received many more opportunities to get his music heard and has established himself as one of the reigning American masters of jazz. Ran Blake, piano; Art Crist, engineering; recorded at Bell Sound Studios, NYC, in May 1965; liner notes by Gunther Schuller.